Welcome to the face-off of butter vs. margarine, the most awaited one. Both of these foods are commonly found in our kitchen and can be used interchangeably. Both may look the same, but they aren’t; they are comprised of different ingredients. In recent times, there has been an immense comparison between butter and margarine to determine which of the two is best for our health.
The origin of butter goes a long time back in history. It is rumored that nomads accidentally invented butter. During World War II, its shortage was experienced. It was at this time margarine was used popularly as an inexpensive substitute for butter. Its origin traces back to the Emperor Napolean III period. Let’s find out which one of these two is the best and healthier option.
Butter is a dairy product prepared by separating cream or whole milk into fat and buttermilk. Thus, butter is 80% fat. Butter is a semisolid emulsion at room temperature. It is, therefore, a product that is animal-based and contains cholesterol and saturated fats.
Effects Of Eating Excessive Butter
- Heart disease
- High levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol
- Risk Of Cancer
Research has proved that reducing the intake of saturated fat can cause a reduction in cardiovascular risk. Conversely, some studies conclude that dairy-fat foods do not contribute to the risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease and metabolic disease. Another study states a relatively small association of butter consumption with mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Thus, the findings are inconsistent.
Health Benefits Of Eating Butter
In spite of all this, butter does have some health benefits. Apart from containing calories and fats, it also contains certain vitamins. These include vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These vitamins thus improve immunity, provide healthy vision, provide antioxidants. Additionally, butter also contains small amounts of riboflavin, calcium, phosphorous.
Margarine is made from vegetable oils by a process called hydrogenation and interesterification. It enables the vegetable oils to harden and solidify at room temperature. Thus, margarine is a processed food product made from plant sources that were designed to replace butter. Margarine contains unsaturated fats and trans fat due to the processing.
Effects Of Eating Excessive Margarine
- High risk of mortality due to trans fat
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Less levels of good (HDL) cholesterol
The PUFA in margarine has been identified to be better than unsaturated fat in butter. This is because PUFAs lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Vegetable oils also contain phytosterols or stanols, which lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol.
The hydrogenation process is when the vegetable oils undergo causes some of the unsaturated fat to change to saturated fat. Trans fat is formed as a side product. To reduce the amount of trans fat in processed foods, the FDA implements a ban on such products. Thus, a new technique was invented to harden the vegetable oils at room temperature. This technique is interesterification. It replaces some of the unsaturated fat with saturated fat.
Health Benefits Of Eating Margarine
Margarine contains good unsaturated fats since it is prepared from vegetable oils, reducing bad cholesterol levels. Margarine contains vitamins A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin K. It has omega 3 fatty acids, which helps in lowering inflammation and triglycerides levels in the body.
Butter Vs. Margarine
The debate about butter versus margarine has yielded mixed results. More research is necessary to identify which product is the best for human consumption. However, with whatever data is available today, it is understood that the portion size matters. Whatever you eat, be it butter or margarine, eat it in limitation. We know the components of both these products and can thus decide what is best for our bodies. Ultimately, both of these contain the main component as fat.
From the point of heart disease, use butter sparingly because of its saturated fat content. Margarine, however, is difficult to classify. The older versions did contain trans fat, and the newer versions have high unsaturated fats, low saturated fats and are free of trans fat. But they do contain calories. So, always look at the nutrition labels before you buy them.
There is no clear winner but weigh the pros and cons before you choose.
Read Also: Walnuts Vs Almonds: Which One Is Healthier?